Updated broadband maps from Connect Minnesota — a mixed bag
The issue of mapping is on our agenda for the next meeting (Friday, July 17th in Mankato). Oops, I guess not -- just got our agenda and it's dropped off, scheduled for next month instead. Connect Minnesota (a subsidiary of Connected Nations) won Minnesota's broadband mapping RFP a while back and they've just released the final versions. You should go to their web site (www.ConnectMN.org) and check out the maps for your local area.
There are lessons we should learn from this, and things we should make sure find their way into the State's next RFP for mapping... These are things I (speaking as a policy-maker now) can't do with the Connected Nations maps
- View the maps quickly (God their system is ssllllooooooowww -- each time I change any parameter on the interactive map it takes 20-30 seconds to refresh -- and howcum there aren't any maps for Ramsey County? -- and why are the maps delivered on web sites described with an IP address rather than a domain name??)
- Verify the data (this information lies behind broad non-disclosure agreements -- we have to find a middle ground here between what we are getting and what we need peepul)
- Understand whether the providers' stated speeds are actually available rather than just stated (in many cases they're not -- due to circuit, distance or sharing limitations -- which bears on our plans for the future)
- Understand the cost per mBit of the services (arriving at some sense of affordability of the services so we can make good decisions about what to do in that regard)
- Understand the capacity of the services (we need this for planning -- is the infrastructure maxed-out right now or can some providers take on more customers, or increase speeds?)
- Understand the penetration of the services (so we can figure out where we need to aim our digital-literacy, digital-inclusion efforts)
- Understand the tiers of service available to residential and business customers (these maps appear to only address residential service, but a big focus of our effort is to deliver ultra high speed services to entities that need them)
- Provide a public dataset that others (the State, cities, counties, citizens) can use in their mapping systems
All of this is old news. The point of this post is to remind us that we're not getting a perfect product here and that we need to do better the next time around.